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The myth of the 'unaffected' side after unilateral stroke: Is reorganisation of the non-infarcted corticospinal system to re-establish balance the price for recovery?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sara Graziadio, Professor Janet Eyre



Background: Bilateral changes in the hemispheric reorganisation have been observed chronically after unilateral stroke. Our hypotheses were that activity dependent competition between the lesioned and non-lesioned corticospinal systems would result in persisting asymmetry and be associated with poor recovery. Methods: Eleven subjects (medium 6.5 years after stroke) were compared to 9 age-matched controls. The power spectral density (PSD) of the sensorimotor electroencephalogram (SM1-EEG) and electromyogram (EMG) and corticomuscular coherence (CMC) were studied during rest and isometric contraction of right or left opponens pollicis (OP). Global recovery was assessed using NIH score. Findings: There was bilateral loss of beta frequency activity in the SM1-EEGs and OP-EMGs in strokes compared to controls. There was no difference between strokes and controls in symmetry indices estimated between the two corticospinal systems for SM1-EEG, OP-EMG and CMC. Performance correlated with preservation of beta frequency power in OP-EMG in both hands. Symmetry indices for the SM1-EEG. OP-EMG and CMC correlated with recovery. Interpretation: Significant changes occurred at both cortical and spinomuscular levels after stroke but to the same degree and in the same direction in both the lesioned and non-lesioned corticospinal systems. Global recovery correlated with the degree of symmetry between corticospinal systems at all three levels - cortical and spinomuscular levels and their connectivity (CMC), but not with the absolute degree of abnormality. Reestablishing balance between the corticospinal systems may be important for overall motor function, even if it is achieved at the expense of the non-lesioned system. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Graziadio S, Tomasevic L, Assenza G, Tecchio F, Eyre JA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Experimental Neurology

Year: 2012

Volume: 238

Issue: 2

Pages: 168-175

Print publication date: 01/12/2012

Date deposited: 04/02/2013

ISSN (print): 0014-4886

ISSN (electronic): 1090-2430

Publisher: Academic Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2012.08.031


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Funder referenceFunder name
200859European Community
GR-2008-1138642Italian Ministry of Health
WT065577MAWellcome Trust